In 1998, a book was published which became pivotal in the covenant of marriage between Elaine and I. Chuck Swindoll took up the task of writing books about people in the Bible, and in 1997 he published Esther.
Elaine and I have three sons, so my poor wife lives in a swampland of masculinity. At the time, our boys were all teenagers. I felt like I was losing the feminine romancing Elaine of my youth. Her feminine shine was beginning to tarnish under the weight of four, very masculine characters.
I consider myself to be a guy’s guy, so my automatic mindset when something is not as it should be is to pick up my tools and fix it. When I saw my wife withering in front of me I wanted to fix her somehow. But how do you fix the soul of a woman? Heaven, help me!
As I read Swindoll’s book, Esther I found the right tools. I felt the hand of God inside every chapter. As I read, bubbles of the Kingdom of Heaven grew.
For Christmas that year, I took the book and inserted Elaine’s picture from our wedding day on the cover. My beloved is Esther to me. I presented the book to Elaine with a sticky note attached to see page 205. Swindoll wrote the book, but I finished it with some handwritten notes:
On Christmas 1998,
Seems strange that I give you a gift that you in fact bought.
As I read the story of this woman it made me harken back on our lives. I know you as a woman of strength and dignity. Your life has been a profile of character. With that in mind, I desire to celebrate you, the woman I married, who has made me the man that I am. At the end of each day, I want to commit a sacred time to read to you a piece of this book. Some days just a page, or even a paragraph, others an entire chapter. I want you to see yourself the way I see you. Not by the image in the mirror, but the radiant beauty at your core—that of a queen!
Your loving husband,
Fast forward to today. We have read through the book multiple times, and my beloved knows I revere her as Esther. But the constant barrage of culture and media drive home the point that she is not as young as she once was. The book is going on her nightstand tonight! No news, no weather report, no sports; just me reading a bedtime story of Esther…of her.
The Kingdom of Heaven is closer than we think and everyone can experience it repeatedly: from a book written in 460 BC, and again by Chuck Swindoll in 1997, and again, read by me in 1998 and 2018.
I was already decompressing. I sent my final message to Elaine, then shut down my phone. I told her to read the note I left on my pillow as I quietly left earlier that morning. Each year, when c...